indoor gardening

BHG Guest Blogger

Chasing the Winter Blues with Lively Greens!

The following is a guest blog post from Katie McCoy Dubow.

The winter blues affects us all differently, but surrounding yourself with fresh, colorful plants all winter is sure to be the cure for what ails you.

With color, texture, drama and a touch of whimsy, indoor plants instantly liven up any room with their individual personalities and will help you beat the winter blues this year. Whether it’s a terrarium full of succulents or the bold colors of an amaryllis, there is an indoor garden that will fit your style, mood and taste.

Besides what they give back in aesthetics, one of the greatest things indoor plants do is provide much needed humidity in the winter months and freshen the air year round.

Here are four, easy indoor garden styles to brighten up your home this winter:

Craft a mini garden with maximum impact.
Terrariums are a popular garden style because they require little maintenance to flourish, yet have an endlessly elegant look.  The key to success is choosing the right plants. A great variety to start with is Golden Club Moss because it thrives in a low light, high moisture environment. Other great starter plants include water-retaining, light-loving succulents and cacti. They’re virtually indestructible and come in many colors, shapes and varieties.

Learn how to make your own terrarium.

Create inner peace.
Creating this indoor garden will help calm and relax your mind. Every aspect of a Zen garden — its nature, construction and upkeep — is designed for contemplation and reflection. Rocks and sand make up the basic elements, but beyond that it’s up to you. NativeCast’s dish containers work perfectly as a base for your Zen garden because of their size and shape.  Have fun with it and think of it as an ever changing work of art.

Photo credit: NativeCast

Even more Japanese garden inspiration.

Make your room come alive.
Greenery is growing in surprising places. Just look up and around. Now you can get your nature fix inside with your very own living walls or vertical gardens. If you have the time and resources, or want a visually dramatic look for a room, living walls are the ticket.

Garden expert at Costa Farms, Justin Hancock, says that living green walls are a great way to maximize the benefits of houseplants by purifying the air and beautifying spaces. Try hanging one in the kitchen planted with herbs for fresh kitchen flavors all year long.

With more and more companies selling these kits and supplies, it’s easy to re-create these gardens over a weekend.
 

Make your own living wall.

Pop a color that will last all winter.
Growing bulbs indoors in the winter lets you enjoy the colors and fragrance of spring even though it’s still months away.  But now’s the time to get started.

First, choose your bulbs. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus from Longfield Gardens are perfect for indoor gardening because they don’t require any chill time. I like to plant bulbs every week in the winter, so I can have blooming flowers all winter long.  Paperwhites will bloom in four to six weeks, amaryllis in six to eight.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens

Here are my top 12 favorite ways to decorate with amaryllis.

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Katie McCoy Dubow is creative officer at Garden Media, a PR firm specializing in the horticulture industry.

 

 

 

 

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Whitney Curtis

5 Easy Indoor Plants

Since it’s National Indoor Plant Week this week, I thought I’d show you a few easy indoor plants to inspire you to add some greenery to your home. I have a bunch of indoor plants around my house, they really do add depth and life to any room – and they purify the air too! Below are my top five picks for indoor plants, as well as light and water requirements. And here are a few more houseplant suggestions.

 

Maidenhair Fern

Light:  Low light
Watering:  High humidity and consistent moisture (I water mine daily!)
More info on Maidenhair fern here.

national indoor plant week

Philodendron “Orange Prince”

Light:  Low light
Watering:  Moderately moist soil, water once or twice a week

philodendron national indoor plant week

Pachira Aquatica (aka The Money Tree!)

Light:  Bright light, no direct sun
Watering:  Moist soil, high humidity

pachira aquatica money plant national indoor plant week

 

Aphelandra (aka Zebra Plant)

Light:  Bright light, no direct sun
Watering:  High humidity, moist soil (Don’t let the soil dry out!)
More houseplants with fantastic foliage here.

aphelandra national indoor plant week

Bromeliad

Light:  Medium light
Watering:  Moist soil, but tolerant if you forget every now and then. (You can water into the stem where the leaves form a little cup at the base, above the soil. It’s actually a good idea to keep some water in that “cup.”)

bromeliad national indoor plant week

 

 


James A. Baggett

All About Amaryllis

That thick layer of snow outside hasn’t dampened my garden spirits one bit. On the contrary, after perusing the seed and plant catalogs that have been piling up in my mailbox, I’m inspired to fill my windowsills with blooming color. And to me, amaryllis look best right around now, when the days are slowly growing longer and the desire for a little outdoor action makes everybody a little loopy. The huge trumpet-shaped blossoms of amaryllis have an almost otherworldly appearance…and they are surprisingly easy to grow indoors. Amaryllis are tender bulbs with tropical origins; they have been bred by the Dutch to produce vigorous three-foot-tall stems that bear 10-inch blossoms in red, white, peach, green, salmon, striped, and even polka-dotted. There are even variegated (the foliage), miniature, and pointy-petaled cultivars.

Bulbs potted up shortly after the new year will be in full splendor well before the vernal equinox on March 20th (it takes about six to eight weeks after planting for the bulbs to actually bloom). Before I moved to Iowa, I had some three dozen amaryllis bulbs, collected over the years, that I’d overwinter in the basement of the brownstone where I lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. There’s no reason to toss out an amaryllis once it’s done blooming since they’re a cinch to get to bloom again the following year. After your amaryllis has finished blooming, treat the strap-like foliage just like any other houseplant until it is warm enough to move out to the garden for the summer. Come September, move them into a cool, dark spot and allow them to dry up and drop their leaves. Then, a couple of months before you want blooms on your windowsill, start the indoor forcing process all over again (I usually repot by bulbs with fresh potting soil and time-release fertilizer for extra oomph). I also like to provide the stalks with added support by tying them to a stake; this helps them hold their heavy heads—usually three to four massive flowers each—upright.

Last fall, our friends at Longfield Gardens sent me a selection of their amaryllis bulbs to add to my personal collection. They sent me ‘Elvas’, and ‘Nymph’, and ‘Vera’, and ‘Magic Green’. That’s ‘Elvas’ and ‘Nymph’ blooming their heads off in my breakfast nook this morning. ‘Elvas’ has broad white petals with painterly, cardinal-red brushstrokes. ‘Nymph’ is a gorgeous double amaryllis with layers of glistening white petals that feature delicate traceries of red. The center radiates a soft, lemon-lime glow. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to that?


Denny Schrock

indoor plant projects add beauty

If you’re ready for spring to arrive, but the weather isn’t quite cooperating, why not plan and plant an indoor garden project? During a photo shoot last week for an upcoming book on indoor gardening, I completed several projects featuring bromeliads and a couple involving converted indoor fountains. Use your imagination to come up with unique containers for terrariums and dish gardens. The results will enliven your indoor living spaces and help bridge the time until you can dig in the garden outdoors.

This former slate fountain now houses 'Bright Star' dieffenbachia and 'Brasil' philodendron. 'Millenium' variegated English ivy trails from the top of the fountain.

This wreath of air plants (Tillandsia spp.) is easy to make with a double-wire wreath ring, a hot glue gun, a collection of air plants, and a wreath hanger.

A former slate waterfall fountain cradles air plants (Tillandsia spp.) at each level. The plants need only water and bright light to thrive.

These air plants (Tillandsia spp.) were glued to a piece of wood and propped up in a tall vase that serves as a terrarium. The glass marbles prevent the stick from shifting.

Earth stars (Cryptanthus bivittatus) are terrestrial bromeliads. Here they're planted with moss and decorated with glass marbles in a shallow microwave baking pan.


Denny Schrock

bromeliads for valentine’s day

Bromeliads are easy-care indoor plants that pack a punch of color for months on end. Rather than giving your valentine flowers with fleeting color, consider giving a lasting gift of one of these beauties. (While you’re at it, pick up one for yourself too!)

All that these undemanding plants require is bright light and occasional watering. The varieties that form cuplike rosettes make watering a snap. Simply fill the “cup” with water, allowing a bit extra to drip down to the soil. Types with scaly silvery foliage (sometimes called air plants) thrive with twice-weekly misting or dunking.

Because they are tropical in origin, bromeliads appreciate comfortable room-temperature conditions. You can move them outdoors to a shaded location for the summer, but protect them from frost.

'Valentina' is a new variety of guzmania, appropriately named for gift giving to your sweetheart. Its combination of green straplike leaves, bright red bracts, and tiny white flowers is stunning.

Blushing bromeliad (Neoregelia carolinae 'Tricolor') develops a reddish pink blush on its green and white striped leaves when it blooms. The flowers are often hidden in the plant's vase, but the colorful foliage steals the show anyway.

Silver vase plant (Aechmea fasciata) pushes up a starburst of pink bracts and small purplish blue flowers from its silvery vase of foliage.

Pink quill (Tillandsia cyanea) is an air plant bromeliad. Its bright pink bracts remain even after its purple flowers fade.

Earth star (Cryptanthus bivittatus) makes a sculptural statement in a mixed planter. Its cream, rose, and green stripes attract attention.


Denny Schrock

Trends in indoor gardening

The Tropical Plant Industry Expo is the place to go to see what’s hot in indoor gardening. The fact that it’s held in southern Florida in mid-January, is another incentive to attend! Trends that I saw this year include a resurgence in the popularity of terrariums and dish gardens. But these aren’t simply a return to mass-produced fad gardens from the 1970s. Modern mini-landscapes have more style and individuality. Often they’re displayed in unique containers or feature sculptural plants. The emphasis is on tough, easy-care plants such as succulents and bromeliads. Here are some examples that I saw at this year’s Expo.

The ribbed glass on this terrarium adds a unique perspective, resembling a pumpkin. It makes a great centerpiece.

The ceramic base on this terrarium hides the soil and root zone while displaying the foliage clearly.

Put that cupcake holder to use displaying begonias, ferns, peperomias, nerve plants, and miniature palms.

Spikes of maroon Dracaena marginata explode from a bed of heavily patterned peacock plant (Maranta) in this combo.

These earth stars (Cryptanthus), a type of bromeliad, look other-worldly when displayed on a pedestal.

Echeverias, kalanchoe, and peperomia team to create amazing texture and color in this succulent dish garden.